Fleming strikes deal with coach

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

When Sean Fleming approached the ball for his first real field-goal attempt in one month, he didn't trust himself.

With the Eskimos leading 7-0 in the first quarter last night, Fleming missed a 42-yard field goal.

Right on cue, the boos rained down at Commonwealth Stadium.

But as the battered 14-year veteran trotted off the field, head coach Danny Maciocia reminded Fleming of the deal they have: Go back out there and kick the next field goal.

Fleming did just that - and might have turned his season around.

"The hardest kick to make is the one after you miss. It is not really the game winner, it's the one after you miss," said Fleming after the Eskimos' win over the Lions last night.

Fleming made that kick last night, connecting from 21 yards in the third quarter.

He added a 13-yarder in the fourth quarter before leaving the field with a message for the fans.

"I want to thank the majority of the fans that didn't boo - and for the ones that did, I am going to turn this season around and I am going to play well and when I do start making field goals, don't clap," explained Fleming, who had been benched from field goal duties since mid-August.

"What's the point? I don't want people jumping on and off the bandwagon."

Regardless of the bandwagon, Maciocia is just happy he's seeing the old Fleming.

"I'm actually glad that he missed (the first field goal)," said the coach. "He came back (to the bench) and I told him, 'Remember the deal?'

"That's more like the Sean Fleming that I know."

ESKS GOT (RUNNING) GAME

It may not yet be time to offer praise for the running game, but some heat will be off Esks' head coach Danny Maciocia this week.

"I get to enjoy this week," said Maciocia, who has been hearing from critics for weeks because of the team's lacklustre run game.

"We issued a challenge ... that people think we aren't good. People think that I don't know how to run the ball."

Last night, the Eskimos showed some signs that they can the ball.

Ron McClendon and rookie Dahrran Diedrick combined for 62 yards. McClendon also scored two touchdowns on the ground.

This comes on the heels of two tough games. Not counting shovel passes, McClendon gained just five yards on six carries against Saskatchewan last weekend.

A week before, McClendon and Mathieu Bertrand combined for 42 against Calgary.

"I told you, Thunder and Lightning," said a beaming McClendon after rushing for 31 yards on five carries, giving him a healthy 6.2-yard average last night.

McClendon calls himself Lightning because of his quick, scat-back moves.

Diedrick gets the Thunder tag because of his more powerful running style.

"I'm telling you, we are going to be great with this," continued McClendon.

"It takes a while for the running game to get going and the coach did a good job recommitting to that."

The most promising sign for the Eskimos might have been the team's ability to run the ball late in the game.

After Tony Tompkins returned a kickoff for a touchdown to put the Esks up 27-20 in the fourth, they ran the ball six times for 32 yards before time expired.

"You got to be able to run the ball at the end of the game when you are trying to run the clock out," said Diedrick. "But after Tony Tompkins scored his touchdown we were so fired up on our sidelines that I don't think there was anything we couldn't do."


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